The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden mission abroad: reward friends, constrain adversaries

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 597,628; Tuesday, 597,952; Wednesday, 598,326; Thursday, 598,765.

President BidenJoe BidenBaltimore police chief calls for more 'boots on the ground' to handle crime wave Biden to deliver remarks at Sen. John Warner's funeral Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump MORE will meet today in the United Kingdom for the first time with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of a Group of Seven (G-7) summit that will focus on international alliances, pandemic responses, and concerns among the world’s leading democracies about China’s economic and security dominance.


The Associated Press: Biden, Johnson to stress close ties, manage differences.  


Dan Balz, The Washington Post: Is there a special relationship building between Biden and Boris? Or not?


Beijing is a through-line during Biden’s six-day trip, which will include NATO meetings in Brussels and a bilateral face-to-face meeting next week with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia deems Bard College program a threat to 'order and security' The Biden-Putin summit was a master class in diplomacy Cyberattack on Polish government officials linked to Russian hackers MORE in Geneva.


Biden told U.S. troops in Britain on Wednesday that the future of the world depends on restoring long standing alliances with European countries that have been “hardened in the fire of war” and built by “generations of Americans.” Speaking to troops at RAF Mildenhall in England (pictured below), he called his weeklong diplomatic overture “essential,” saying that no nation acting alone can meet the world’s challenges and that the U.S. is standing up to adversaries such as China and Russia (The New York Times). 



President Joe Biden addresses US Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, Suffolk, England



An increasingly authoritarian China is flexing its muscles commercially, diplomatically and militarily, reports The New York Times, and Biden sees it as more of a long-term challenge than Russia. But how he might corral U.S. allies into a strategy to modify China’s behavior is unclear.


The G-7 leaders are expected to announce an initiative to finance infrastructure in the developing world as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (Asia Times), and Biden and European leaders will discuss how to push back on some of China’s economic practices, reports The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant.


Niall Stanage, The Memo: Biden says democracies work. The United States is not helping his case. 


With U.S.-China policy in mind, Biden this week paused former President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE’s efforts to ban TikTok and WeChat with new instructions to the Commerce Department to review potential national security risks posed by software applications tied to China (The Associated Press). 


The Hill: Five things to watch during Biden’s first overseas trip as president.


The three-day G-7 summit takes place at Carbis Bay in Cornwall, England, a small seaside town that has been spruced up and fortified with COVID-19 and security precautions for its major international close-up. Near the bay, artists Joe Rush and Alex Wreckage used discarded electronics and trash to build Mount Rushmore-esque likenesses of Johnson, Biden and the leaders of Japan, France, Italy, Canada and Germany (pictured below). 



People look at a giant Mount Rushmore-style sculpture of the G7 leaders heads, made entirely of discarded electronics



More administration headlines: The company behind the Keystone XL pipeline said on Wednesday it is officially scrapping the project, citing the Biden administration’s disapproval of a border crossing permit. The pipeline has been a controversy for regulators, governors, unions and at least three U.S. presidents (The Hill and Washington Examiner). … Vice President Harris has returned from Guatemala and Mexico as allies and critics agree the trip this week did not go as planned, particularly during her rocky NBC interview with Lester Holt (The Hill). Questions heard among some observers: Has Biden given the VP thorny assignments that set her up to fail? Does she have the right staff? Is she focused on realistic deliverables (and messaging)? … The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced plans to strengthen a Trump-era regulation that the Biden team says contributes to environmental degradation of various water resources under the Clean Water Act (The Hill).


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CONGRESS: Moderates are having a moment — but only in moderation. 


Middle-of-the-road lawmakers in both chambers are making their mark in infrastructure talks, with Biden resetting his focus on negotiations with the so-called G-20 group of senators. However, the group’s efforts are alarming Senate Democrats who worry that they could undermine a more expansive package the majority hopes to pass via reconciliation later this year. 


As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, the issues were raised at a caucus meeting on Tuesday where Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseProgressive groups ramp up pressure on Feinstein Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks MORE (D-R.I.) sought a guarantee from moderate members to support a bigger reconciliation package later this year if they agree to a scaled-down infrastructure bill with GOP colleagues. 


Adding to the concerns, early signs out of the G-20 negotiations indicate that a potential bill will not meet the benchmarks set by the White House in talks that ended on Tuesday with Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office MORE (R-W.Va.). This has liberals wondering why the negotiations are continuing.


“It’s time to fish or cut bait,” Whitehouse tweeted on Wednesday.


The Hill: Bipartisan Senate group rules out tax hikes on infrastructure.


Politico: Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSchumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster White House draws ire of progressives amid voting rights defeat Senate GOP blocks voting rights bill MORE (R-Ariz.) gets her make-or-break moment with Republicans.


NBC News: Democratic frustrations flare over flailing infrastructure negotiations.





Across the Capitol complex, the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of House moderates, unveiled a $1.25 trillion infrastructure plan on Wednesday that includes spending over eight years. The 58-member caucus is expected to offer proposals in the coming days about how to pay for the package, but tax increases are not expected to be one of them. Roughly $762 billion of the plan represents new spending.


The framework offered by the group calls for more than $959 billion for traditional infrastructure, including highways, bridges, rail, airports and waterways; $74 billion for drinking water and wastewater systems; $71 billion for the electric grid and clean-energy programs; $45 billion for broadband; and $10 billion for veterans’ housing (The Hill).


The Associated Press: For an infrastructure deal, Biden eyes “multiple paths forward.”


The Wall Street Journal: New talks on infrastructure face old problem: how to pay for it.


The Hill: Democrats say climate provisions must remain in any infrastructure plan.


Meanwhile, the issues plaguing infrastructure talks are extending to the Senate as the chamber struggles to clinch bipartisan compromises. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, talks on issues including immigration reform and gun background checks are moving at a snail’s pace or are nonexistent. Forecasts for pending police reform legislation — around which leading senators had earlier expressed optimism for agreement by the end of this month — now appear cloudy.


Adding to the tumult, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerWhite House draws ire of progressives amid voting rights defeat Murkowski to vote 'no' on voting rights bill Harris to preside over Senate for voting rights debate MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP blocks voting rights bill Schumer, McConnell spar as GOP prepares to block voting bill Trump has 'zero desire' to be Speaker, spokesman says MORE (R-Ky.) have blamed each for the situation ahead of  what’s expected to be a weeks-long rough patch for the upper chamber.


The Wall Street Journal: Talks falter on background checks for gun sales.


While that stretch could be bleak in the Senate, there is one bipartisan bill that has already made its way through the chamber: sweeping legislation to bolster U.S. technology manufacturing and increase competitiveness with China. However, it still faces obstacles in the House, with lawmakers set to return to town next week.  


As The Hill’s Cristina Marcos reports, House members are preparing to advance their own measures to bolster scientific research, press China to ensure it plays a “constructive role” in combating climate change and outpace its “vaccine diplomacy” to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.  


Republicans say they are open to backing the bill and are working closely with Democrats to make changes, with the House Foreign Affairs Committee postponing a markup originally scheduled for next week to allow more time for negotiations. However, the House Science Committee is expected to act as soon as next week to advance its portion of legislation to increase funding for the National Science Foundation.


Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), interviewed on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, dismissed a China competitiveness bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday, arguing the National Science Foundation “is not a place that gets much done. I mean, the sort of research they do has nothing to do to help this country.” (In fact, 65 Florida colleges, universities, nonprofits and scientific institutions received close to a quarter of a million dollars in fiscal 2020 from the foundation for education, research, personnel and equipment.) Scott chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee and is talked about as a possible 2024 presidential contender.


> Congressional Black Caucus: A House Republican who is Black is allegedly being blocked from joining the Democrat-dominated CBC (BuzzFeed News and The Hill).


POLITICS: Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsFlorida governor adept student of Trump playbook It's past time we elect a Black woman governor Demings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio MORE (D-Fla.) announced on Wednesday that she will challenge Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal Rising violent crime poses new challenge for White House MORE (R-Fla.) for his Senate seat next year, immediately becoming the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. 


Demings, a former Orlando police chief who helped bring charges against Trump during his first impeachment trial and was considered as Biden’s running mate last year, has never run a statewide race. Rubio responded Wednesday by describing her as a “far-left liberal Democrat” and “do-nothing” member of Congress (The New York Times).  


Other Florida Democrats are still considering whether to jump into the contest in a battleground state trending red, though some top contenders have either decided to run for governor or have decided against launching bids. 


The Washington Post: Democratic establishment tightens its hold on the party as far-left candidates fall short.



Rep. Val Demings



> Watchdog: An inspector general (IG) for the Interior Department on Wednesday said in a report that Trump’s plans to walk through Lafayette Square last summer did not influence officers' decisions to clear protesters out of the park.


The agency found that while law enforcement learned on the day of the incident that Trump might visit, U.S. Park Police, the lead agency overseeing Lafayette Square, had already planned to clear the park in order to install additional fencing around the White House.


Trump shortly after claimed vindication, thanking the IG “for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!” (The Hill).


The Hill: West Virginia's Democratic drama goes beyond Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSchumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster Biden says push to advance elections overhaul 'far from over' Pelosi quashes reports on Jan. 6 select committee MORE (D-W.Va).


Reid Wilson, The Hill: Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms.


Forbes: Republican National Committee paid Keith Schiller, Trump’s former bodyguard, $585,500 over three years. He was paid $165,000 a year when he worked in the White House.




CORONAVIRUS: Biden will formally announce today in the United Kingdom that the United States will purchase 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to share with the world through COVAX, the World Health Organization-backed initiative.


The White House fact sheet is HERE.


The first 200 million doses will be distributed this year, with the subsequent 300 million shared in the first half of next year. Pfizer agreed to sell the doses to the United States at a “not-for-profit” price, The Washington Post reported. The administration previously said the president would press other rich democracies to share coronavirus vaccine doses, including during his participation in the G-7 summit that begins on Friday. Biden last week laid out a plan to share with the developing world an initial 25 million doses (Axios).



A carton box of a Covishield vaccine developed by Pune based Serum Institute of India



> China is battling a new coronavirus outbreak with tough quarantines and restrictions. In the country where the pandemic began, it is not over (The New York Times). 


> Andy Slavitt, a businessman and something of a federal fix-it manager with extensive experience in health care, announced on Wednesday that he had completed his temporary position as a senior adviser to the administration’s COVID-19 response team and was returning to other pursuits (The Hill). 

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


Was Biden’s bold first 100 days a mirage? by Perry Bacon Jr., columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3wfzmY4 


Schumer finds he lacks a political mandate, by Karl RoveKarl Christian RoveThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden mission abroad: reward friends, constrain adversaries Biden's 2022 problem: Even some liberals are starting to say 'Enough!' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby - Biden floats infrastructure, tax concessions to GOP MORE, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3xbWqXG


My fellow Republicans, stop fearing this dangerous and diminished man, by former Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockFormer GOP rep calls on party to move on from 'patron saint of sore losers' Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden mission abroad: reward friends, constrain adversaries The Memo: Trump seizes spotlight to distract from defeat MORE, opinion contributor, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3wf4VRM


Why Facebook supports updated internet regulations


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The House meets at 11:30 a.m. for a pro forma session on Friday. Lawmakers resume legislative work in the Capitol next week.


The Senate meets at 10:30 a.m. and will resume consideration of the nomination of Zahid Quraishi to be U.S. district judge for New Jersey.


The president at 1:30 p.m. local time will receive the President’s Daily Brief while in the United Kingdom. Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Johnson at 3:15 p.m. local time, ahead of the annual Group of Seven summit in Cornwall. This evening, Biden delivers remarks in St. Ives, Cornwall, announcing new donations of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the American people for inoculations in more than 90 countries. 


First lady Jill Biden will share morning tea with Carrie Johnson, wife of the prime minister, at Carbis Bay, Cornwall.


Second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters Harris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety, efficacy in SC event to kick off tour MORE today will visit a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and participate in a listening session with health center workers and community members in Tallahassee, Fla., at 10:55 a.m. 


Economic indicators: The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. reports the U.S. consumer price index for May, no doubt stirring continued discussions about inflationary risks. Separately, the Labor Department will report unemployment claims for the week ending June 5, with expectations for a continued decline in filings for jobless benefits.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


INTERNATIONAL: Nuclear talks between the United States and Iran will resume this weekend in Vienna, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday (Reuters). … El Salvador is the first country to treat bitcoin as legal tender (Reuters). … Organizations founded by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny were outlawed in Russia on Wednesday, with a Moscow court calling them extremist. The ruling prevents people associated with the Foundation for Fighting Corruption and a host of other groups across the country from running for political office in an attempt to diminish their power and voice (The Associated Press).


COURTS: McDonald’s on Tuesday defeated a bias lawsuit brought in federal court by Black franchise owners in Tennessee (Bloomberg News and CNBC).


NEWS MEDIA: The Associated Press reports it is working to be responsive to staff members who experience threats, hate and harassment from readers on social media in response to their work. Journalists in today’s social media environment, especially women and prominent reporters of color, are often public targets of racist and sexist slurs, vile insults and threats of rape, dismemberment or other violence from online readers. The wire service says it is searching for effective responses in addition to working with law enforcement. … CNN disclosed on Wednesday that its lawyer and top executive were forced beginning in 2020 to abide by a Justice Department gag order not to speak about Trump administration efforts to obtain access to defense reporter Barbara Starr’s email logs. The network agreed to turn over a limited set of email logs after reaching a deal with the department just days into the Biden administration. 


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Struck by the never-ending Washington debate about infrastructure advancements, we’re eager for some smart guesses about how the country moved from rutted forest trails to the air.


Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


Which state dreamed up the first hard-surfaced turnpike road built by a private company? 

  1. New Mexico
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Maine
  4. Delaware

Outside of Washington, D.C., in Maryland, a single runway is the world’s oldest continually operating airport, established in 1909 when Wilbur Wright arrived at the field to train two officers in the U.S. Army. What is the airport’s name?

  1. Bel Air Landing Zone 
  2. Lee Airport
  3. College Park Airport
  4. Harbor Field

What primarily brought the U.S. steamboat era to an end?  

  1. Aeronautics
  2. Coal shortage
  3. Civil War
  4. Railroads

Which U.S. presidents earned pilot licenses before taking up residence in the White House? 

  1. Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush
  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush
  3. Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy
  4. None of the above 


A race between two paddle steamers, on the Mississippi River in North America, circa 1860